The fourth annual national Wine Bloggers Conference, held at the Omni in Charlottesville, VA, just concluded and announced its annual blog awards at a gala dinner Saturday night, which featured nine Virginia wines paired with food.
The conference, which sold out at over 340 attendees, was sponsored largely by the Virginia Wine Marketing Office, the Virginia Department of Tourism, and the Charlottesville Visitors Bureau.
The 2011 Wine Blog Awards are:
Best New Wine Blog: Terroirist, by David White.
Best Writing On a Wine Blog: Vinography, by Alder Yarrow.
Best Winery Blog: Tablas Creek, by Jason Haas
Best Single Subject: New York Cork Report by Lenn Thompson
Best Wine Reviews on a Wine Blog: Enobytes, by Marc Hinton and Pamela Heiligenthal
Best Industry/Business Wine Blog: Fermentation, by Tom Wark
Best Overall Wine Blog: Fermentation, by Tom Wark
Best Wine Blog Graphics, Photography, & Presentation – Vino Freakism, by David Brookes
Talks with attendees show a high level of satisfaction with how Virginia hosted the conference. Melanie Ofenloch, a k a “Dallas wine chick.”, said “I feel that they absolutely rolled out the red carpet for us. It’s impressive that Virginia is taking winemaking very seriously and that they know they need to market Virginia wine to people out of state; they realize the payoff in educating bloggers about the region and the wines; I was pleasantly surprised.”
Virginia-focused activities included a pre-conference optional tour of Loudoun County wineries, a walking tour of the Grounds at the University of Virginia, a wine tasting on the lawn at Monticello, a seminar session on “Virgina Wine Industry’s History, Geology, and Business Climate,” a five hour long bus tour of three Virginia wineries, and the nine Virginia wines paired with the awards dinner.
Attendees came from around the country and even as far as the U.K. Even though 90% of them had tried Virginia wine in the past, some were impressed with how far they see wine quality having come, even in a few years. Cecilia Dominic is based in Georgia and has a blog titled “The Random Enophile”; she tasted in Virginia three years ago. Their bus went to 2 of the wineries they’d visited before and were not impressed with then. “Yesterday we were really impressed with them; they were very much improved. We’ve been impressed with VA in the past and we’re more impressed with them now; we hope Georgia wines will move in that direction.” She had been looking forward to tasting some good petit verdot and cabernet francs on this trip and was not disappointed; she finds they continue to do very well and meet her expectations for high quality.
Bill Eyer,a wine blogger based in San Diego, was very impressed with the Jefferson Vineyards reserve 2007 Chardonnay; “I’d never guess this was from Virginia,” he said, praising the finesse and fine acidity. “In Napa or Sonoma, this would be a $50 bottle,” he added, surprised at the $25 price. He was also very impressed with a Keswick cabernet sauvignon compared to the benchmark Napa cabernets.